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Mickey's Madhouse information?

mharrington

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
I am trying to figure out some information about an abandoned concept for a Disneyland attraction known as Mickey's Madhouse, which was to have gone in the never-built Dumbo's Circusland:


However, I have precious little information to go on about Mickey's Madhouse, mainly because they give so little information pertaining to it. All I know about it is that it was going to be a thrilling dark ride/roller coaster hybrid based on the 1930s black-and-white Mickey Mouse cartoons and set to rollicking ragtime music. Ward Kimball had designed this ride to be an indoor attraction, through a handful of scenes of old Mickey cartoons (about five or six in all). But that's really about all I know about it.

As for artwork, the only piece of artwork I could find pertaining to Mickey's Madhouse is this shot of the exterior:


I also have some questions based on this. First, was there supposed to be a story based around this attraction, or was it just going to be a bunch of random vignettes? Second and more important, how would classic cartoons like these fit in a circus setting? It seems similar to the Winnie the Pooh ride, which takes the different Pooh stories and blends them into one attraction (and even then, it's most beholden to "Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day", which is the only classic Pooh cartoon to feature ALL of the Pooh characters at once).

That type of dynamic is completely fine for an attraction, but I'm not sure how classic Mickey Mouse cartoons would have fit in Dumbo's Circusland, which is themed around one particular setting: namely, the circus.

Can someone please shed some light if they can?
 

Rich T

Well-Known Member
Oh, that wonderful Dumbo's Circus/Discovery Bay model! I spent soooo much time staring at that thing as a kid while it was on display on Main Street! I wish I could be of some help here, but you seem to have rounded up all the available info about Mickey's Mad House that I've ever seen, and I wonder if it ever really got any further along in development than that. I've always been under the impression that it was meant to be a fast-paced series of vignettes utilizing a combination of simple AA's, real sets and cut-outs. This never-realized ride is the main reason I can't wait for Runaway Railway.
(EDIT)
About its inclusion in the circus: My theory is Imagineering wanted to do a Mickey dark ride, and Dumbo's Circus provided a chance to justify it. I think the idea was that it would be presented as the Circus's sideshow attraction.
 
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mharrington

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Oh, that wonderful Dumbo's Circus/Discovery Bay model! I spent soooo much time staring at that thing as a kid while it was on display on Main Street! I wish I could be of some help here, but you seem to have rounded up all the available info about Mickey's Mad House that I've ever seen, and I wonder if it ever really got any further along in development than that. I've always been under the impression that it was meant to be a fast-paced series of vignettes utilizing a combination of simple AA's, real sets and cut-outs. This never-realized ride is the main reason I can't wait for Runaway Railway.
(EDIT)
About its inclusion in the circus: My theory is Imagineering wanted to do a Mickey dark ride, and Dumbo's Circus provided a chance to justify it. I think the idea was that it would be presented as the Circus's sideshow attraction.
Why is it that some people compare it to Runaway Railway? That is not even based around the same time period. The Madhouse concept is based around black-and-white cartoons, whereas Runaway Railway is based (very loosely, I think) around the Flash cartoons, which I think seem to be replacing the classic cartoons. When you see Mickey cartoons now, it seems that all you will ever see are these newest cartoons, and while some of these cartoons are okay, the classics are better. Anyway, they are two different time periods which are almost a century(!) apart from one another.

As for the justification about the Mickey dark ride being in the circus area of all places, the reason I brought it up was because I was thinking about bringing this concept into Storybook Circus (on more than one occasion, I might add), primarily to make up for the loss of Toontown Fair. On one of my last attempts (seen here: https://forums.wdwmagic.com/threads/mickeys-fun-house-for-mks-storybook-circus-open-brainstorming.936029/), I was very persuasively questioned about it by @spacemt354, who argued (again, persuasively) that that that kind of ride, a ride through old Mickey cartoons, may fit in a lot of places, but not at Storybook Circus, which, as I said before, is themed around one location: the circus. As such, it was argued that it must be themed to the circus first and old cartoons second.

My thought was if I just had a little more information to go on in terms of this old attraction, I would have something to work with, as opposed to coming up with everything from scratch. That's why I posted this thread. I have been searching far and wide, high and low, for any new shreds of information on this beyond what I already knew about it. But apparently, I couldn't find anything.
 

The_Mesh_Hatter

Well-Known Member
Apparently it was going to be a dressed up Wild Mouse. So think Goofy’s Flight School, but indoors. And potentially extra track before the lift for more extensive show scenes like Crush’s Coaster.
 

mharrington

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Apparently it was going to be a dressed up Wild Mouse. So think Goofy’s Flight School, but indoors. And potentially extra track before the lift for more extensive show scenes like Crush’s Coaster.
I already know about that, too. I forgot to mention it. My idea was not going to be a roller coaster, but maybe the ride vehicles could function as a milder, less aggressive version of the Indiana Jones ride.
 

Rich T

Well-Known Member
Why is it that some people compare it to Runaway Railway? That is not even based around the same time period. The Madhouse concept is based around black-and-white cartoons, whereas Runaway Railway is based (very loosely, I think) around the Flash cartoons, which I think seem to be replacing the classic cartoons. When you see Mickey cartoons now, it seems that all you will ever see are these newest cartoons, and while some of these cartoons are okay, the classics are better. Anyway, they are two different time periods which are almost a century(!) apart from one another.

As for the justification about the Mickey dark ride being in the circus area of all places, the reason I brought it up was because I was thinking about bringing this concept into Storybook Circus (on more than one occasion, I might add), primarily to make up for the loss of Toontown Fair. On one of my last attempts (seen here: https://forums.wdwmagic.com/threads/mickeys-fun-house-for-mks-storybook-circus-open-brainstorming.936029/), I was very persuasively questioned about it by @spacemt354, who argued (again, persuasively) that that that kind of ride, a ride through old Mickey cartoons, may fit in a lot of places, but not at Storybook Circus, which, as I said before, is themed around one location: the circus. As such, it was argued that it must be themed to the circus first and old cartoons second.

My thought was if I just had a little more information to go on in terms of this old attraction, I would have something to work with, as opposed to coming up with everything from scratch. That's why I posted this thread. I have been searching far and wide, high and low, for any new shreds of information on this beyond what I already knew about it. But apparently, I couldn't find anything.
The comparison is because it's an indoor ride based on Mickey Mouse; that's a fairly thin little grouping. Don't overthink it; I really believe the Circus location was simply chosen because it was a potential way to get the ride green-lit. I think Disney fans sometimes spend more time pondering canceled projects than the Imagineers themselves ever spent actually working on the ideas. I know I'm certainly guilty of that. :D I mean, for crying out loud, if anyone would *seriously* tell you a Mickey dark ride in a circus location is unacceptable...they're taking theme parks way too seriously. Disneyland has a Matterhorn for one reason: Walt thought it would be awesome. Fun comes first. :)
 

mharrington

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
The comparison is because it's an indoor ride based on Mickey Mouse; that's a fairly thin little grouping. Don't overthink it; I really believe the Circus location was simply chosen because it was a potential way to get the ride green-lit. I think Disney fans sometimes spend more time pondering canceled projects than the Imagineers themselves ever spent actually working on the ideas. I know I'm certainly guilty of that. :D I mean, for crying out loud, if anyone would *seriously* tell you a Mickey dark ride in a circus location is unacceptable...they're taking theme parks way too seriously. Disneyland has a Matterhorn for one reason: Walt thought it would be awesome. Fun comes first. :)
First of all, how is the comparison a "thin little grouping"? I'm confused. Second, I'm as guilty as anyone of overthinking things. To be fair, the argument wasn't that a Mickey ride in a circus is unacceptable, it's just that the ride should actually fit the circus theme and not just be a bunch of random vignettes of old cartoons, which they argued would work better in something like, say, a Toontown, which of course there is none at WDW now (not that Toontown Fair was really the best thing in the world anyway).
 

Rich T

Well-Known Member
First of all, how is the comparison a "thin little grouping"? I'm confused. Second, I'm as guilty as anyone of overthinking things. To be fair, the argument wasn't that a Mickey ride in a circus is unacceptable, it's just that the ride should actually fit the circus theme and not just be a bunch of random vignettes of old cartoons, which they argued would work better in something like, say, a Toontown, which of course there is none at WDW now (not that Toontown Fair was really the best thing in the world anyway).
As far as I know, the Mickey Mouse Indoor Ride ideas have consisted of:
1) Mickey's Mad House
2) Runaway Railway
That's what I call a thin little grouping, and the reason the two are often mentioned in the same discussion. I like the idea of giving Mad House a circus twist to fit it into the area more smoothly. That makes sense.
 

George Lucas on a Bench

Well-Known Member
A madhouse? People always call a madhouse 'some place', don't they? "Put her in some place..."

Have you ever seen the inside of one of those places? The laughing, and the tears and the cruel eyes studying you?
 

mharrington

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
I like the idea of giving Mad House a circus twist to fit it into the area more smoothly. That makes sense.
As I said before, if I had more information to go on in terms of the original ride concept, I would have something. I like the idea of vignettes of old Mickey cartoons, I just wish I knew more of a way to link them so they don't just jarringly cut from one scene to another.
 

Figments Friend

Well-Known Member
Here is some concept artwork done for the interior show scenes and ride layout for the unbuilt 'Mickey's Madhouse'.
This was a later stage in its development, as the paperwork notes a 1983 time stamp.

These photos come from a set of WED / Imagineering documents related to this unbuilt project that surfaced from a private collection and went up for auction publically a few years ago.
I remember when I came across the images I was surprised by the quality and quantity present in the proposed ride through and the impressive looking concept ideas.
I saved the images, as I found them to be quite interesting.

The ride looked to be well done, and I think if it had actually been built it would have been a very fun Attraction.

As these images were posted during a public auction, I will share them here.

Have a look -

This first image is Marty Sklar's WED embossed letter to Ward Kimball, in an attempt to recruit him for the project.
Tim and Steve Kirk were also attached to 'Mickey's Madhouse'.

image.jpeg

Next up is a look at the Pre-Show area -

image.jpeg

Followed by the seperately themed Show rooms covering Mickey's career -

image.jpeg


image.jpeg

image.jpeg

WED / Imagineering was really on fire creatively in the late 70s and very early 80s.
The work done, and even the proposed projects being developed at that time that were never built, were fantastic.

-
 
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mickEblu

Well-Known Member
Wow @mharrington you’re coming off a little snarky when people are just doing their best to answer your question and give their opinion. Their just isn’t a lot of info on the topic. You did better here than you did on Micechat.
 

TwilightZone

Well-Known Member
Here is some concept artwork done for the interior show scenes and ride layout for the unbuilt 'Mickey's Madhouse'.
This was a later stage in its development, as the paperwork notes a 1983 time stamp.

These photos come from a set of WED / Imagineering documents related to this unbuilt project that surfaced from a private collection and went up for auction publically a few years ago.
I remember when I came across the images I was surprised by the quality and quantity present in the proposed ride through and the impressive looking concept ideas.
I saved the images, as I found them to be quite interesting.

The ride looked to be well done, and I think if it had actually been built it would have been a very fun Attraction.

As these images were posted during a public auction, I will share them here.

Have a look -

This first image is Marty Sklar's WED embossed letter to Ward Kimball, in an attempt to recruit him for the project.
Tim and Steve Kirk were also attached to 'Mickey's Madhouse'.

View attachment 344446

Next up is a look at the Pre-Show area -

View attachment 344444

Followed by the seperately themed Show rooms covering Mickey's career -

View attachment 344447


View attachment 344448

View attachment 344450

WED / Imagineering was really on fire creatively in the late 70s and very early 80s.
The work done, and even the proposed projects being developed at that time that were never built, were fantastic.

-
So the person who vandalized the hollywood sign was just a disney fan?
 

mharrington

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Wow @mharrington you’re coming off a little snarky when people are just doing their best to answer your question and give their opinion. Their just isn’t a lot of info on the topic. You did better here than you did on Micechat.
I wasn't intending to be snarky, and I do appreciate the help and opinions. However, I'm just trying to justify putting the abandoned concept into the Storybook Circus area of the Magic Kingdom as it was originally intended, because the original concept was also going to go in a circus-like area as well. When I do those things on the Imagineering page, I'm not the most, for a lack of better terms, imaginative (which is to say, able to invent things from scratch, all by myself), so I used abandoned concepts for a guide (some may call it a crutch).

The thing is, I have autism and as such, I take things literally. In this case, I wish to try to replicate the ride as originally intended, a trip through old cartoons with ragtime music playing. I even thought of modifying the concept with color cartoons rather than black-and-white. However, with little information to go on, it was suggested to just abandon the original concept and create a brand-new concept, one which uses small elements of the shorts here and there to create something original, centered first and foremost around the circus. My concern was that the original idea would be too compromised if I went that route. I was simply too beholden to the shorts vignettes concept. In the case of Runaway Railway, I don't see the old cartoons here, what I see are the post-2013 shorts, which my family does not particularly care for.

In any case, as we all agree, there is little information to go on, so I have no idea what to do. I overthink my ideas at times. I'm not proud of it, but it's something I do.

In any case, I didn't mean to be snarky. I just wished there was more to go on.
 

mickEblu

Well-Known Member
I wasn't intending to be snarky, and I do appreciate the help and opinions. However, I'm just trying to justify putting the abandoned concept into the Storybook Circus area of the Magic Kingdom as it was originally intended, because the original concept was also going to go in a circus-like area as well. When I do those things on the Imagineering page, I'm not the most, for a lack of better terms, imaginative (which is to say, able to invent things from scratch, all by myself), so I used abandoned concepts for a guide (some may call it a crutch).

The thing is, I have autism and as such, I take things literally. In this case, I wish to try to replicate the ride as originally intended, a trip through old cartoons with ragtime music playing. I even thought of modifying the concept with color cartoons rather than black-and-white. However, with little information to go on, it was suggested to just abandon the original concept and create a brand-new concept, one which uses small elements of the shorts here and there to create something original, centered first and foremost around the circus. My concern was that the original idea would be too compromised if I went that route. I was simply too beholden to the shorts vignettes concept. In the case of Runaway Railway, I don't see the old cartoons here, what I see are the post-2013 shorts, which my family does not particularly care for.

In any case, as we all agree, there is little information to go on, so I have no idea what to do. I overthink my ideas at times. I'm not proud of it, but it's something I do.

In any case, I didn't mean to be snarky. I just wished there was more to go on.
I’m sorry. Lol. You really didn’t come off that snarky. Maybe I was in a bad mood or something. Or maybe after reading this post, your previous posts sound different.

Good luck to you.
 

mharrington

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
So this all boils down to a single question: would a dark ride primarily about random vignettes of old shorts have worked in a circus-like setting, even if the ride itself was not overtly themed so, or would it not?
 

mharrington

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Here is some concept artwork done for the interior show scenes and ride layout for the unbuilt 'Mickey's Madhouse'.
This was a later stage in its development, as the paperwork notes a 1983 time stamp.

These photos come from a set of WED / Imagineering documents related to this unbuilt project that surfaced from a private collection and went up for auction publically a few years ago.
I remember when I came across the images I was surprised by the quality and quantity present in the proposed ride through and the impressive looking concept ideas.
I saved the images, as I found them to be quite interesting.

The ride looked to be well done, and I think if it had actually been built it would have been a very fun Attraction.

As these images were posted during a public auction, I will share them here.

Have a look -

This first image is Marty Sklar's WED embossed letter to Ward Kimball, in an attempt to recruit him for the project.
Tim and Steve Kirk were also attached to 'Mickey's Madhouse'.

View attachment 344446

Next up is a look at the Pre-Show area -

View attachment 344444

Followed by the seperately themed Show rooms covering Mickey's career -

View attachment 344447


View attachment 344448

View attachment 344450

WED / Imagineering was really on fire creatively in the late 70s and very early 80s.
The work done, and even the proposed projects being developed at that time that were never built, were fantastic.

-
I doubt that would have ever fit in a circus setting, nor do I even know where else it would have fit, mainly because it was planned as early as the late 1970s, when there was no plan at that time for a studio park. Where do you think that kind of ride would have fit in the days before the Studios? I could be mistaken, but I believe it was intended for the Magic Kingdom. If that's the case, where could it have gone?

Also, that looks like the kind of thing they should have done rather than Runaway Railway, which looks like fun, but it runs the same risk as Gadget's Go Coaster, which is tied very much to a '90s show that not a lot of people of this generation may know about. The 2013 Mickey series may yet be timeless, but by being tied to a single property (the 2013 series vs. the classic stuff) and replacing a HUGE ride, it's likely to remain that way for years to come. To that end, it is likely to become dated in a matter of a few years. Not even Mickey Mouse Clubhouse lasted forever (even though I thought it would given how long it ran from).
 
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